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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Trial and Error
Directed by Jonathan Lynn
New Line Home Video 05/97 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG-13 - some sexual content
Trial and Error is a hilarious comedy directed by Jonathan Lynn who was also at the helm of My Cousin Vinny. The man obviously has a knack for squeezing laughs out of courtroom situations.
Charles Tuttle (Jeff Daniels) is a week away from marrying the boss's daughter in a top Los Angeles law firm when his soon-to-be father-in-law orders him to a small Nevada town to defend Benny Gibbs (Rip Torn), a relative accused of fraud. There he meets his best friend since childhood, Richard (Michael Richards), an out-of-work actor who throws him a stag party.
Charles is so sick the next day that Richard volunteers to stand in for him and ask for a continuance. The assistant district attorney (Jessica Steen) refuses to postpone the case and the judge (Austin Pendleton) orders the trial to begin. To make matters worse, Richard gets a big head over pretending to be a lawyer. Charles realizes that his career is on the line and that he must spoon feed his friend on court procedure.
The screenplay by Sara and Gregory Bernstein is filled with delicious comic bits about lawyers, juries, and experts. Best of all the film makes a serious point about the ways in which many people get so caught up in the roles they are playing at work and in relationships that they lose sight of their authentic selves. Newcomer Charlize Theron plays Billie Tyler, a waitress who steals Charles's heart and derails his fast lane career.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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